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SOF Ground Vehicles

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The early months of 2013 find the greater U.S. special operations forces (SOF) community facing a number of recent and pending actions surrounding its ground vehicle platforms.

In terms of recent acquisition actions, one of the most noteworthy events was the mid-January selection of a ground vehicle platform for the Guardian Angel Air-deployable Rescue Vehicle (GAARV) program. Although not currently slated for fielding within U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), the GAARV will provide Air Force “Guardian Angel” rescue personnel with the types of specialized mobility capabilities normally associated with SOF elements.

General Dynamics Flyer in mountains

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems’ “Flyer” is a leading contender in the GMV 1.1 program. General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems photo

The original February 2012 GAARV announcement highlighted the need for “up to 61” GAARV platforms, with the envisioned asset described as an “air-deployable, surface rescue platform capable of maneuvering over adverse terrain in order to search for and recover isolated personnel (IP) and/or equipment, while also providing the capability of transporting the rescue team and the IP from an area of high threat to a defendable location for recovery by aircraft or self recovery to the final destination.”

In late January 2013, HDT Global announced that its Expeditionary Systems Group had been awarded the GAARV contract for the production of HDT Storm Search and Rescue Tactical Vehicles.

The announcement acknowledged USSOCOM had an approved capability production document that required 1,297 GMV 1.1 vehicles to achieve full operational capability. The envisioned acquisition approach called for interested vendors to provide “a product sample” vehicle as part of their proposals, with that vehicle able to demonstrate a mature design that, “with minor engineering effort,” would be capable of meeting the production requirement.

Describing Storm as “an ultra-lightweight, air-deployable tactical vehicle that offers Guardian Angel rescue teams the necessary equipment to search for and recover personnel and equipment in austere geographic locations,” the announcement highlighted the platform for providing “unparalleled speed, payload, range and durability,” while meeting the internal transportability requirements of M/HC-130P/N/J, C-130/C-130J, KC-130J, and C-17 fixed-wing aircraft, as well as CH-47 and CH-53 helicopters. The platform “can also be deployed through low velocity aerial delivery or Joint Precision Airdrop System (JPADS) methods.”

With a curb weight of 4,320 pounds and a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 8,050 pounds, the Storm design is capable of carrying up to three patient litters in a rollover protection system (ROP), without modifications, while still maintaining 360 degree field of fire for weapons.

“The HDT Storm gives the Guardian Angel Teams the capability to perform their mission, particularly when facing terrain impassable using other vehicles,” explained Robin Stefanovich, Business Development for Vehicles and Robotics, HDT Expeditionary Systems Group. “Although extremely lightweight, this vehicle has the necessary power and performance to deliver personnel and equipment to their desired destination, away from an area of high threat to a defendable location.”

While Storm might have peripheral applications in some SOF scenarios, a more direct vehicle application effort can be seen in the Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV) 1.1 program. As described in early 2012, GMV 1.1 was envisioned as “a Non-Development Item (NDI) vehicle with Special Operations Forces (SOF) peculiar modifications. This vehicle will be a highly mobile, C/MH-47 transportable platform with associated manuals, spare parts, mechanical/operator training, and a government furnished C4ISR suite.”

The announcement acknowledged USSOCOM had an approved capability production document that required 1,297 GMV 1.1 vehicles to achieve full operational capability. The envisioned acquisition approach called for interested vendors to provide “a product sample” vehicle as part of their proposals, with that vehicle able to demonstrate a mature design that, “with minor engineering effort,” would be capable of meeting the production requirement. A draft request for proposals in early April 2012 was followed by the April 12, 2012, release of a solicitation that was subsequently amended and clarified on multiple occasions through early June.

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...

  • Cold Fire should be standard issue on these vehicles. Fire on the battlefield is a pressing and constant problem that can have catastrophic results for personnel and equipment. Due to the explosive nature of military ordinance and the use of many caustic materials for the production of military vehicles, effective fire suppression is a significant factor in mitigating fire damage incurred through accidents and attacks. If fire suppression of burning surfaces is not